Saturday, November 24, 2012

Force on Force - Rules Review

Force on Force is a set of rules from Osprey Publishing that covers modern conflicts. They were developed and distributed by Ambush Alley games who have a strong and loyal customer base. The fire combat is based on shifting dice, so a D6 is worse than a D8, a D10, or a D12(best). Dice are shifted depending on the circumstances. Insurgents may have a D6 firepower which really bad, but may be a D12 morale as they are fighting for their cause against an invader.A typical US infantry unit is uses a  D8 or D10, with Navy SEALS using a D12.

I have played these set of rules about 6 times now and feel comfortable enough to rate them. The rules are based on gaining initiative and the person with intiative can perform actions one unit at a time. The person losing initiative can react fire or react move to a unit that takes an action during its inititiative. By the way Insurgents never get the initiative, a true assymetric engagement.

Organization: C+

The rules are organized by the sequence of play but do have some problems with organization, especially related to reactions. There are rules regarding movement, fire, and morale throughout the book several sections apart making it difficult to put all the pieces together.

 Here is an example:

On page 69 the rules state, "Remember that units lose 1 die of firepower and 1" of movement for each reaction after the first".

Well I checked the movement section on page 31 and there is no mention that a unit loses 1 inch of movement per reaction. The reference should be made under the Movement section as well.

I think the authors tried to cover reactions as a seperate section but since reactions can be movement or fire they influence movement and fire rules in other sections of the book. During the last game I played I was flipping back and forth so much I got frustrated and developed an outline. The organization of the content is my biggest problem with this set of rules.

Examples: A

There are a lot of eamples in the book for specific rules. There are examples for passing and failing dice rolls to help clear up any confusion. Some diagrams would help but the rules are supprted by a strong forum at Ambush Alley.

Support: A

The rules are supported by a forum on the Ambush Alley site. Rules questions and clarifications are frequently listed. Now one may state that a well written set of rules does not require a forum and you may have a case. I have found that every rules set I own has some gray areas that need clarification or some sort of house rule without exception. The website is user friendly and free down loads.

Complete Content: C

I have been flustered by missing content that is included as an addendum online. When playing out a game against insurgents I attempted to clear an unoccupied building. Page 115 refernces the section on how to clear a building of insurgents and refers you to the Building Clearing table. I went crazy trying to locate the table that was mentioned and failed to find it after a long search. I started twitching and cursing as I flipped back and forth reading the same lines over and over again expecting to see a table magically appear out of no where. We eventually skipped the rule completely and moved on. The following day I went on the forum and discovered that the table was accidentally left out of the book during printing. The table is given as a down load on the Ambush Alley website. Another issue is that the optimum fire bonus is not referenceed for vehicles on any QRS I could find. Even though vehicle weapons are always in optimum range so the bonus should be listed on the QRS as a reminder.

There are a lot of pictures included from Osprey books. This can help as a painting guide and understand the variety of troops you can use. I never knew there were Lebanese Marines....hmmph. Sadly there is little eye candy but oh well.

Playability: B+

Movement is very simple and rolling for fire and resolving combat is very easy. The complexity comes in rounds of fire and reactions. You have to remember how many times you fire as you lose fire dice and 1" of movement in every reaction, so an active unit will finish their move short of the intended location if it reacts multiple times. It doesn't hurt to use a players sheet for infantry and vehicles either, I developed my own but you can probably find one on line. The more you play and resolve reactions and chains of reactions the more confident you feel.

Overall a solid B+

You don't need a large investment in figures or terrain. After playing a couple ot times I really like these rules. A game can be played in 2-3 hours and the rules are scalable to involve whole platoons of infantry if you want a gmae that big. The rules are worth the purchase, just be sure to run a small game and build confidence. If you want to play a counter insurgency game then for F*%#s sake get the building clearing table from the website first.


  1. Great review Joe, which I have to agree with, as I too own FoF and AA and have enjoyed playing them. I tend to concentrate on skirmish games now though in 1:1 scale and mainly use THW stuff.

    1. Yeah, I don't dislike the rules, I just had a problem picking out tiny details buried through the manny pages.

  2. Thank you for the review! Very helpful. Where do you all meet at? I live north of Philadelphia.


    1. Our group meets twice a month at a members house near Wilminton Delaware. I believe our next game is 11/30/12 at 7 pm. I can send you directions if you are interested. We also attend Essington Games day. Every couple of months there is a gmaes day with many different games running. It's well worth the trip.